What’s it Like as a SENSIBLE Surrogate?
We understand a surrogacy journey can seem complex, so your personal Surrogacy Coordinator will hold your hand throughout the entire process. You’ll be completely supported from your first meeting with the parents until the delivery of the baby… and even beyond.
Here’s what you can expect as a SENSIBLE surrogate — including medical checkups and your relationship with the parents.
1. Qualifying as a Surrogate.
All surrogate candidates receive a preliminary chat with our surrogate coordinator. We’ll walk through the process with you, confirm that you meet the legal and medical requirements, and answer any questions you may have.
We’ll ask permission for your doctor to share your medical history and provide a report from your previous pregnancy(s). This information is kept strictly confidential – and shared only with the IVF clinic. We never disclose your personal medical information to any third parties.
Following this initial conversation, you may be approved to join the surrogacy program. At that time we’ll consider you for a possible match with one of our Intended Parents.
2. Meeting your Intended Parents
Once you join SENSIBLE’s surrogate program, we will present you with profiles of possible Intended Parents. You can accept or reject them based on their profile. You don’t have to accept any Intended Parent – that choice is completely up to you.
If the parent’s profile looks good, we will arrange for you to meet them by phone or video chat. Often the parents and surrogate hit it off right away, and other times you may want more calls to get to know each other.
SENSIBLE introduces parents and surrogates that are a “good fit” and will form a good working partnership throughout the surrogacy journey. If you and the Intended Parents agree to work together, we consider that a “Match”.
3. Initial Screening
If you are matched with a parent, the next step is a standard medical checkup and fertility exam. The doctor will perform an ultrasound, urine screening, blood work, and have a detailed chat with you about the medical procedures ahead.
The medical screening process may also involve a variety of exams and procedures, including:
- Pap smear and physical
- Hysteroscopy, which involves a thin scope inserted through the cervix to determine the shape and the size of the uterus and ensure the fallopian tubes are unobstructed
- Saline sonogram, which flushes the uterus with saline solution to check for anything that would interfere with the pregnancy
Blood tests will measure fertility hormone levels. (You may be asked to go off birth control leading up to the fertility test.) You may also be asked to submit to a drug test and background check, as will your husband or intimate partner.
You will also have a video session with our licensed therapist to make sure you are psychologically ready for the journey and understand the responsibilities of being a surrogate.
Finally, you should not have an IUD or other contraceptive implants. If you do have an IUD, it will have to be removed at least 2 months before the medical screening.
4. Surrogacy Contracts
Once you make it through medical screening, it’s time to sign the Surrogacy Agreement. We’ll provide an independent lawyer to review the Agreement with you, and we’ll make sure you understand every line and provision of the Agreement. You and your lawyer will be able to request reasonable changes. When you and the Parents agree on the terms, you’ll sign the Agreement and your preparation for the Embryo Transfer will begin.
5. Preparing for Pregnancy
Preparing for a pregnancy requires multiple fertility treatments, blood tests, injections and ultrasounds. The standard fertility protocol lasts from 2 to 3 weeks from the start of your natural cycle. Hormones supplements will continue until around 10 weeks of pregnancy, at which time you’ll graduate to stopping medications and seeing a normal OBGYN.
Stimulation will consist of daily hormone supplements (some injected and some oral). Every few days you will have an examination by the clinic specialist to see how your body is responding to the medication, and if the dosage should be adjusted. The embryo transfer takes place around Day 14 of your cycle.
If all goes well, about two weeks into the protocol your uterus will be sufficiently prepared to receive the embryo transfer. We measure success of the protocol on the thickness of your uterine lining. It should reach a thickness between 8mm and 12mm on the day of the transfer.
A Mock Transfer
In some cases, the clinic may perform a “mock transfer” in the month prior to the actual embryo transfer. In a mock transfer, the reproductive endocrinologist will put you on the same medications you will take to prepare for the real transfer. This will give him the chance to check your uterine lining and ensure it is responding well to the medications. It also lets your doctor know if there are any potential problems or obstacles to the transfer of the embryo.
6. Getting Pregnant
The embryo transfer is a relatively simple procedure that does not require medication or anesthesia. The doctor will simply use a long catheter to place a fertilized embryo (sometimes two) into your uterus. The catheter is inserted through the cervix into the uterus, using an abdominal ultrasound to ensure exact placement of the embryo.
After the transfer, you are free to go home following a brief rest at the clinic.
Ten to 12 days following the embryo transfer the clinic will perform an HCG blood pregnancy test. You may also use a home pregnancy test around the same time to get a (less reliable) preview of the results.
If the clinical pregnancy test shows an HCG level above 75 – congratulations, you’re pregnant!
Two days later, another HCG test will be administered to verify that your HCG levels are going up; they should double about every two days. If the HCG levels continue to increase, the first ultrasound will be scheduled for around 2- 2 1/2 weeks later (about 6 six weeks of the pregnancy). At this time, we’ll confirm the heartbeat and begin transitioning you to the care of your personal obstetrician.
If the pregnancy test is negative, you may repeat the embryo transfer process during your next complete cycle.
7. Pregnancy and Prenatal Care
Once the baby’s heartbeat is confirmed, and the IVF clinic will transition you off of the medications and monitoring. From that point you’ll be under the care of your local OBGYN. That will take place at around 10 weeks of pregnancy. The IVF physician’s office will send all of her medical records over to your OBGYN who will schedule your first appointment.
Throughout the pregnancy, you will receive prenatal care as you would with any natural pregnancy, with checkups every month or so. Standard tests to confirm the health of the baby are made just as with any natural pregnancy.
You’ll be asked to share the result of all the prenatal exams with the Intended Parents. In some cases, the parents may ask to go to the exams with you – it’s an exciting time for them as well as you, and they will want to have every scrap of information about the pregnancy.
8. You and the Intended Parents
You will not be alone during the pregnancy. In addition to our own surrogate coordinator, the Intended Parents are likely going to want to follow every development, regardless of how small. You should prepare to have two new ‘best friends’ as the Intended Parents focus on your care and well being.
Milestones such as the first ultrasound image, the first heartbeat, the baby’s early movements and 3D ultrasound scans, are important events in the lives of the Intended Parents. In some cases, the Intended parents may ask to go to prenatal appointments in person, so they can experiences the pregnancy with you.
The Intended Parents will certainly want to be present at the delivery. They may ask to be present in the delivery room when the baby is born. That choice is up to you and how comfortable you are with having them present.
In general, the relationship between you and the Intended Parents is very personal and every case is unique. Some parents look forward to lasting bond with the birth mother of their child. Some will be deeply involved with the pregnancy, delivery, and even your recovery. Other parents prefer that the relationship is kept supportive but professional. Your relationship with the Intended Parents will be defined by you both, and we suggest you discuss how you want to interact with them early in the pregnancy (or even during the matching phase).
An Important Note
Throughout these medical processes and your entire pregnancy, you’ll be in constant contact with our surrogate coordinator and with the Intended Parents.
The surrogate is the hero of the surrogacy journey… so our #1 priority is you and the baby you’re carrying. We want to make sure throughout the entire process that you and the baby are healthy, supported and well cared for. If you have any problems or complaints during the pregnancy, you should feel free to call us. Our surrogate managers are always available to help.